RaveThe Washington PostNafisi’s father went to prison for four years because he insisted on fair and humane treatment for people he disagreed with. From father to daughter, there is a clear line in the moral and intellectual commitment to seeing the enemy’s humanity. Read Dangerously — criticism, memoir and argument as well as correspondence to a lost loved one — confirms that lineage ... Frequently and deftly shifting lanes between autobiography and literary analysis, she uses her experience and reading of three books to question the nature of this immemorial conflict between the poet and the tyrant ... Pushing beyond state power, she also asks incisive questions about the intolerance within individuals. Her observations implicate both adherents of Make America Great Again and their political foes ... This book reciprocates the rhetorical gesture in a natural, intimate voice. Stylistic and affective reasons aside, writing to her departed father reinforces the mood of Nafisi’s book, which turns to the power and example of the brave past and to a tradition of great books as solace and guide. With sensitivity and intelligence, it offers a new canon for the tyrannies of the present and the dystopian possibilities of the future.
RaveThe New York Times Book Review... Chow’s memoir is a memorial to her mother delivered in a graceful, captivating voice. Like several acts of tribute to the dead in this book about grief and family, immigration and ancestors, it’s accomplished long after the loss that it marks ... A certain kind of sorrow lingers because a part of us wants it and wills it to persist, and Chow artfully and intelligently maps which kind of grief this is ... Chow exercises such control that her tone manages somehow to be both brooding and affectionately humorous ... gives flesh to this theory, the idea that loss of country and loss of loved ones can hook us with similar perpetual sorrow, through storytelling that brings alive both Chow’s mother and father, drawing their characters tenderly but with unflinching honesty.
MixedThe New RepublicIn an evocative style, with a keen eye for metaphor, Wilkerson is popularizing an idea first put forward almost a century ago and reasserted every generation since by some scholars ... Revealing a relationship of resemblance instead, Wilkerson offers a breathtaking riposte to America’s image of itself as a moral beacon to the world ... Her treatment of the Indian caste system lacks the density of harrowing examples that gives her rendering of injustices against African Americans such moral power. Wilkerson offers few detailed stories of Dalit oppression from India’s history or headlines, but instead broadly lays out the precepts of caste there as a backdrop to accentuate the American reality. Although the book circles again and again to devastating scenes of African American lynchings, for example, it doesn’t mention the ongoing lynchings of Dalits ... In this context, where a global spotlight illuminates one group’s persecution while the other’s recedes into obscurity, naming matters ... By neglecting individualized Dalit experience, by skipping stories about the violence against lower castes in India, Wilkerson misses an opportunity to achieve a more radical goal: to build popular and more reciprocal solidarities on a global level—between the resistance movements against anti-Blackness here and casteism there, for one. Ironically, her approach embodies one aspect of the American exceptionalism she challenges: It centers the United States, using the world outside our borders mostly as reference point, as foil to show Americans that we are not better ... caste also bends in other ways that Wilkerson doesn’t convey ... As Wilkerson so movingly conveys, the irony of systemic oppression is that it robs both the subordinate and the dominant of their individualities, implicated in structures larger than themselves ... Although Wilkerson uses the vocabulary of a systemic problem, the solutions she suggests are not systemic ... For any who still entertain the notion of the United States as special, an ideal more than a nation state, and a place of equal opportunity, this book illuminates who we truly are by connecting us to a concept that many Americans view as foreign, feudal, backward.
Quế Mai Phan Nguyễn
RaveThe New York Times Book Review... absorbing, stirring ... Que Mai contains her saga with a poet’s discipline, crafting spare and unsparing sentences, and uplifts it with a poet’s antenna for beauty in the most desolate circumstances. She evokes the landscape hauntingly, as a site of loss so profound it assumes the quality of fable ... Through her depiction of sympathetic characters suffering under a repressive regime, Que Mai offers us in The Mountains Sing a novel that, in more than one sense, remedies history.
RaveThe New York Times Book ReviewLike most modern migrants, the characters in these eight stories inhabit both past and present, homeland and new land ... One More Year is chiefly about exile and fidelity. Krasikov’s migrantka (they are mainly women) enact two plots: leaving their country and leaving their love(r) ... Krasikov’s cast of exiles, refugees and repatriates are also, more fundamentally, people moving in and out of love — or what passes for it. She has written a sensitive book about the economics of relationships: how they can become subtle transactions by people trying to pull off the trick of occupying more than one place and more than one time.
PositiveThe New RepublicIn arguing for immigration as a form of reparations for harm done in the past, [Mehta] consciously takes a cue from Ta-Nehisi Coates’s writing on the debt owed African-Americans for slavery ... This Land not only bares teeth, but bites ... If there is a fully-rounded character in This Land, it is Mehta himself. As narrator, he emerges as comprehensively analytical and trenchant, full of pointed epigrams; perhaps too willing sometimes to lean into the model minority narrative to argue the case for immigrants; relatively privileged but for the most part aware of his privilege and indulgent occasionally of a male gaze ... Mehta is brave and generous enough to be personal with his readers, mining his own life as professor, father, brother, son ... This Land is Mehta’s expression of rage at the cynical exploitation of inequality.
PositiveThe New York Times Book Review\"Valeria Luiselli charts the couple’s intellectual concerns and political commitments (and her own) in ruminative, layered prose that deliberately digresses more than it progresses, with a riffing, essayistic logic, subtitles that become refrains, and minimal plot ... What perhaps sets a novel apart from these other genres [about migration] is the childlike pleasure it can take in pure play, in the imaginative pact of treating the artifice of the story as lived reality. And there is joy in make-believe in Lost Children Archive, which gains much of its wry charisma from the playacting of its precocious child characters ... But what might one do after reading a novel that stirs pity and rage? Acutely sensitive to these misgivings, Luiselli has delivered a madly allusive, self-reflexive, experimental novel, one that is as much about storytellers and storytelling as it is about lost children. Play she in fact can, and does: with structure, cleverly, inventively ... This highly conceptual, cerebral approach is rich but occasionally frustrating as it carries nested within it the potential to stir pity and rage ... [Luiselli\'s] novel bears rereading, to reveal pleasing ironies (the boy loses the “little red book about lost children” on a train) and stylistic sleights of hand ... [The book\'s elegies] achieve a lyrical immediacy that makes us feel for those children atop the train. The brilliance of the writing stirs rage and pity. It humanizes us.\
RaveThe New York Times Book ReviewHer book is a personal history because Ethiopia’s public dramas and denouements are refracted through the domestic prism of her grandmother Yetemegnu’s life ... The chapters, named after months in the Ethiopian calendar and suffused with an awe for the landscape, direct our attention to the immemorial, recurring rhythms of earth and sky: of rain, sowing and harvest, of weddings, births and funerals ... The Wife’s Tale, which plunges us into her consciousness almost as if no seams existed between the author and her subject, as if Edemariam were channeling her grandmother’s spirit, is in a sense the older woman’s narrative gambit from beyond the grave. Her story is certainly cracked open in the telling, so assured and so transcendent, it could win Chaucerian contests.
RaveThe New York Times Book ReviewRatner stirs feeling — sorrow, sympathy, pleasure — through language so ethereal in the face of dislocation and loss that its beauty can only be described as stubborn ... Here, as in her debut novel about Cambodia’s genocide, In the Shadow of the Banyan, Ratner forges many musical phrases from conflict ... Music of the Ghosts has itself been fashioned by a writer scarred by war, a writer whose ability to discern the poetic even in brutal landscapes and histories may be the gift that helped her reassemble the fragments of a self and a life after such shattering suffering.